Lebanon News

Maronite leaders urge support for protests on Mar Maroun holiday

President Michel Aoun lights a candle in the Mar Maroun Church in Beirut on Feb. 9, 2020. (The Daily Star/Presidency,HO)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Maronite clergymen Sunday used their sermons marking the Mar Maroun holiday to urge politicians to respond to the demands of protesters.

Maronite Archbishop of Beirut Boulos Abdel-Sater addressed President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in a sermon in Gemmayze, urging them and other politicians to “work with the true revolutionaries day and night.”

Otherwise, he said, the most honorable thing would be to resign. “Remember, power is a service,” he warned.

Mass protests broke out in Lebanon on Oct. 17, calling for an end to the sectarian political system that has been in power for decades. The movement began as mass rallies, but has now shifted towards more targeted actions, aimed at banks, the Parliament and state institutions.

The Lebanese Army deployed in large numbers around the Mar Maroun church in Gemmayze to prevent protesters from getting close to the ceremony.

A small group of protesters gathered nearby with tape over their lips holding signs that read “no confidence.”

Parliament is set to hold a confidence vote in Hassan Diab’s government during sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Do the tens of thousands of Lebanese who elected you not deserve a correction to the political, economic and financial imbalance?” Abdel-Sater asked.

“Does your conscience not move you at the sight of a mother wailing over her son, who committed suicide because he is unable to provide for his children?”

Tens of thousands of Lebanese people have lost their jobs or seen their salaries cut as the result of Lebanon’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 Civil War. Several people have attempted to or succeeded in committing suicide in recent months as the crisis deepens.

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai also expressed support for the nearly-four month old nationwide protests in his sermon on the holiday marking the founder of the Maronite faith.

“We pray that the uprising of the youth and the people in all areas of Lebanon ... remains a burning flame to address the consciences of officials,” Rai said.

Rai praised the movement for holding politicians to account, urging protesters to remain peaceful and “respectful of constitutional institutions.” He added that he was asking God to save Lebanon from its joint political, economic, financial and social crises.

Mental health support is available via the Embrace Lifeline on 1564.

 

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